No Evidence Of Al-Qaeda In Kashmir: Indian Army
18 June 2007
Srinagar: The Indian army has found no evidence of an Al-Qaeda presence in Kashmir after claims that the militant Islamist network has begun operations in India, an official was quoted as saying Monday. Earlier this month a video CD was distributed to journalists in Srinagar, the urban hub of the revolt against Indian rule in the region, which showed masked gunman claiming that Osama bin Laden's brainchild had arrived. 'Much has been said by the print and electronic media about Al-Qaeda's presence in Kashmir but nothing has been established so far to corroborate these reports,' said Lieutenant General H.S. Panag, head of the army's northern command. 'I would say we also have no records in the past about Al-Qaeda operatives having being found during counter-insurgency operations in the state,' he was quoted saying by the Excelsior daily. Last week, the region's main militant alliance also said Al-Qaeda had no presence in Kashmir, where an insurgency against Indian rule has been raging since 1989. Indian security forces have in the past recovered photographs of bin Laden from militants killed in Kashmir, but have rarely suggested a link between the rebels and Al-Qaeda. Last July, a news agency in Kashmir also received a call from an unidentified man who said a group called 'Al-Qaeda Jammu and Kashmir' had been established in the disputed region. But India has instead maintained that arch-rival Pakistan is to blame for the violence, a charge denied by Islamabad.